Committee co-chairs Glennie LeBaron and Ariel Silverman pose with Pumpkin Pete (Grace Wang) and (from left to right) Gemma Deckinger (3), Hadley Deckinger (4) and Nina Deckinger (7). PHOTO/Sarah Augustine
Committee co-chairs Glennie LeBaron and Ariel Silverman pose with Pumpkin Pete (Grace Wang) and (from left to right) Gemma Deckinger (3), Hadley Deckinger (4) and Nina Deckinger (7). PHOTO/Sarah Augustine

12th Annual Pumpkin Fest Raises $22,000 for Camp Sunshine

November 1, 2017

By Sarah Augustine and Casey Friedman

Passing by the Town Green on this special Saturday each fall, families carve pumpkins, snack on cotton candy and munch on caramel apples in the crisp fall air. Amid the festivities, children frolic and play with their faces painted as butterflies, dogs and cats. Every year, the community raises money to support Camp Sunshine in one of the largest charity

events at Weston.

Started 12 years ago by the Sieber family, the Pumpkin Festival has united the community for numerous years according to committee co-chair Ariel Silverman.

This year, the event offered games ranging from bean bag toss to cookie decorating, as well as live performances. Two of the WHS acapella groups the Town Criers and The Pralines sang an assortment of songs and medleys, as the crowd of people danced and sang along. The band Oakland featuring seniors Robert Sheiman and Alex Friedman, had their set interrupted by light rain but carried on playing classic rock hits by The Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones and more.

In addition to live entertainment, there were several other student-run activities going on throughout the day. The raffle and silent auctions brought in money, as well as the foods and merchandise for sale. Student volunteers also ran food and game stations, including a miniature petting zoo.

Many of the WHS students were inspired to volunteer because of the fun they had going to past Pumpkin Festivals as children. According to sophomore Lily Nielsen, this event is enjoyed by guests and volunteers alike.

“I always came when I was younger, it’s a fun event [because] you get to see everyone.”

All volunteers were required to raise at least $50 and come to either clean up or set up. Higher level volunteers, like committee members and co-chairs, attended several planning meetings and were involved in obtaining all the event materials and coordinating the performances and volunteers.

The level of commitment required by each volunteer varies based on which position they signed up for, according to sophomore volunteer Lila Kosowsky.

“Depending on what level volunteer you are, if you are a committee member you go to meetings to set up and to plan everything out. If you are just a regular volunteer, you show up, get your t-shirt, and bring your fundraising money,” Kosowsky said.

The town-wide event raised $22,000 for Camp Sunshine, a camp that supports children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. By raising the money, the Weston community will help continue this organization for many years to come.

Last year, math department head Jim McLaughlin took a group of ten students to Camp Sunshine during June Academy. McLaughlin describes how it felt to interact with the kids of the camp.

“The kids were having so much fun, and these were kids and families that were going through an incredibly tough experience. And they were just smiling the whole time and having a blast so it was really cool,” McLaughlin said.

Many teachers and students were surprised to hear that Pumpkin Festival had raised $22,000 for Camp Sunshine. This money will go directly toward making a difference in the lives of children suffering terminal illnesses as well their families in coping with the toll of this terminal illness.

The annual Pumpkin Festival cohesively brings the WHS students and community together to support a greater cause.

“I just love how it is so stereotypical americana, that feel, and it is for such an amazing cause,” Silverman said. “And [I love] being able to participate both in my community and in a community service project.”  

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